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Welcome back! As my reading habit spans across genres, so will be my posts and I hope you enjoy the spice of variety as much as I do! My post from last week was a thumbs up to both the book and movie, but this week, there’s a twist. Today, I have another list for you, my list of three awesome books which has been in worst movie adaptations till date:
This is the first book in the Inheritance Cycle written by an American teenager, Christopher Paolini. Paolini started reading fantasy fiction from a young age and was so inspired that he started writing his first novel when he turned 14. It was self-published in 2001 and re-published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2003. It was a superhit and placed on the New York Times Children’s Books Best Seller list for 121 weeks. The story, set in a fictitious world, named Alagaësia, is about a teenage farm boy named Eragon and his dragon, Saphira. Though it was in the category of young adult fiction, Eragon lured the older adults as well, globally. Riding on the global popularity, the book was adapted as a feature film just three years after the book. I would say, it was adapted too fast and maybe that is why it was such a shoddy job! The trailer was the only good thing about this movie.
I was enthused by Paolini’s young age as I was just past the age of a young adult then and devoured every page of the book and then did the same with his next book, The Eldest, in 2005 and was waiting impatiently for his third, when the movie, Eragon was released in 2006. I know many of you will agree that the trailer of the movie was quite a teaser, so don’t blame me, if my expectations ran pretty high too. And I plummeted in the middle of the movie and actually dozed
off despite the super loud soundtrack and the crescendo of the movie. It was such a huge disappointment! The casting was good and so was the cinematography but the editing, the special effects, the entire script as such somehow didn’t knit together at all. Even Jeremy Irons’ brilliance couldn’t lift the movie. So, my advice to you, read all the four books of The Inheritance Cycle but avoid the movie, Eragon, just not worth your time and money.
2. Atlas Shrugged
Ayn Rand wrote this novel in 1957 and what a cult following she created across the years, across generations and across countries and it continues unabated till today! Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism took the world by storm, so much so, that anyone who read about it either fervently idolized it or vehemently opposed it. And this novel, Rand’s fourth and the last and the longest, dripped with this philosophy in every word, every page, every character. The characters, Dagny
Taggart, Hank Rearden and John Galt became legends and every reader aspired to be like them. Surprisingly, this successful book took quite a long time for Hollywood to write a screen script. But when it actually happened, it took a trilogy of movies from year 2011 to 2014 to epitomize the book. Yes, it was an ambitious movie project as Rand created every character in the book with such multiple facades, and so onscreen adaptation was not going to be easy at all. And after watching all the three movies, well, all I would say is, some books are better left alone by Hollywood!
I read Atlas Shrugged, first in high school and many times thereafter. And every time, I would learn something new about each of the characters and be further awed. I have always been so obsessed with this book, that I sometimes attack unsuspecting friends and acquaintances in random conversations by asking, “Who is John Galt?” But the trilogy of movies dampened my euphoria. Each movie was a disaster. Each movie had a different director and a new cast. I
mean, this book had strong characters, and if one decides to make three movies out of it, at least the main cast of characters should have some continuity. I mean, how will you feel any sense of familiarity if the story continues with a new face for every character for every movie! There was sci-fi, mystery and romance in the book and none of the movies could embody any of that. I watched all the 3 movies, one after the other and felt so let down. So much so, I did a repeat read of the book to erase all memories of my misadventure with the movie series and bring back my own images of Dagny, Rearden and Galt and live with them! So, if you are an Ayn Rand fan, a big No to this movie series, just gratify yourself with another read of the book.
3. Eat, Pray, Love
This memoir by American author, Elizabeth Gilbert was published in 2006 and quickly became a symbol of women liberalization and feminism in all its triumph. Since it was real-life, it somehow touched major chords across women globally, women looking for depth and self-fulfillment, women struggling with
spiritualism in today’s age of consumerism. The book had a tagline: “One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia” which was woven into the memoir as: “Eat in Italy, Pray in India and Love in Indonesia.” This multi-country setting added to the book’s appeal and relevance to today’s global citizen. The places she visited in the three countries climbed up ranks as tourist destinations after the book was released. So, when news spread that actress Julia Roberts will play the lead role in the movie adaptation, the world
couldn’t wait. In 2010, the movie opened to big audiences and big expectations and couldn’t match up at all. Yes, Julia Roberts was brilliant as expected but the script did not hold her through. The shots in some of the foreign locations seemed forced, like had to be done, so they either tried too hard to get it right or did not try at all!
I loved the book and I love Julia Roberts, so I loved the movie even before I watched it. But despite all that, I just couldn’t enjoy the movie as much. The feeling of could haves and would haves nagged me in almost every scene and I honestly could not enjoy the movie at all. So, beware, don’t want to spoil the fun but you should rather keep reading “Eat, Pray and Love” rather than watching it!
That’s it for today. But before signing off, the ever optimist me wants to tell you that maybe a great book sometimes need more than one attempt at a movie, maybe the best is yet to come. So, I still believe that these three books will be made into marvelous movies someday in the future, hopefully very soon, we just need to wait with good faith. Please leave me your comments below, I will really love to hear back from you. Keep reading, keep watching, till next time!
Wondering whether to read the book or to watch the on screen adaptation? Yes, I have been wrestling with that, book by book, movie by movie and TV series by TV series, year after year and it never gets easier, ever. So here I am to help you choose, though today it is not so much of a choice but rather a list of equals across different genres. Here, I have a list for you today, my list of three awesome books (series) which met their equally magnificent cinematic adaptations:
1. Gone with the Wind
This classic American novel by Margaret Mitchell published in 1936 needs no review. Set in Georgia, during the American Civil War Era, the world fell in love with the duo of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner and her hero, Rhett Butler. As if the book was not enough to take over the world, the movie adaptation in 1940 captured the imagination of the most cynical skeptics too. I never get tired of saying this every time I watch this movie, “Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh were born to play Rhett and Scarlett.”
I read the novel for the first time in high school, was love struck; watched the movie years later and swooned over again. The cast, the direction, the cinematography, everything was so perfect, just the way I imagined as I had read. If the not-so-happy ending of the book haunted me for years, the last words by Rhett Butler in the movie echoed inside my mind for years too “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” to Scarlett O’Hara, in response to her tearful question: “Where shall I go? What shall I do?” I give a lot of damn, both for the book and the movie and I hope you do too!
2. Harry Potter Series
The Harry Potter (HP) series of seven fantasy novels written by British author, J.K. Rowling was for children to read about magic, wizards witches and all that stuff. What really happened surprised Rowling more than anyone else. From the first book, “The Philosopher’s Stone” published in 1997 to the last one, “The Deathly Hallows” in 2007, the books wove magic on children and adults all over the world, popularity, critical acclaim, commercial success, yes, these books lapped all of it. The eight movie series based on the seven books, distributed by Warner Brothers started with “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone“ (2001) and ended with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” (2011). Riding on the popularity of the books, yes agreed, but each movie with its most intricate detail were impeccable adaptations by their own rights too.
If Rowling took six years to write her first HP book, I give her an ode to her patience by waiting for 15 years from the first book’s release to actually buy the entire series in 2012. I read them at a voracious speed one after the other in less than a month, juggling with a demanding job, and was that fun! The next day, I binge watched all the eight movies on a four-day holiday weekend! And it was worth the wait, worth every missed out conversation among friends, the spell jokes among colleagues which I didn’t understand, yes, the endurance was worth it all. The books weave magic on you and the movies only tighten the web making you shout for more. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter is immortalized I guess, difficult for any of us to see him play any other role in any other movie. Kind of like a curse actually for such a good actor! I am sure many of you reading this will have crazier stories for the HP series, do share them with me. I still feel the euphoria all over again. Maybe time for another read, another watch?
3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The only TV series in the list and no, last does not mean least by any means. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created “Sherlock Homes” one of the most enduring character in crime fiction and wrote 60 stories. The first 12 stories were published in 1892 and from then on, Detective Holmes and his friend, Dr. Watson became a worldwide phenomenon. Doyle was conferred knighthood for it and even today, 127 years since the first story, Sherlock Holmes lives on. In fact, the author got so fed up with the obsession over Holmes that he killed him in one of his books (The Reichenbach Fall) but had to bring him back to life out of pressure from the fans worldwide with the author even getting death threats. The review of the astronomical number of movies and TV series adaptations done on Sherlock Holmes around the world will fill up another series of books and I am still counting.
I watched a Sherlock Holmes TV series when I was in middle school and did not understand much of it then. In high school, I started reading Sherlock Holmes and no surprises, got hooked on to it totally. From then on, I have tried to watch as many adaptations of movies and TV series, including the portrayals by Benedict Cumberbatch as well as by Robert Downey Jr. But my thoughts kept going back to that old TV series from school. Thanks to the internet, I retrieved the series and watched both the seasons at one go, recently. And I rate that as the best adaptation ever of this detective series. This TV series was first released in 1984. Jeremy Brett played Sherlock and David Burke played Dr. Watson. The aquiline nose, the top hat, the pipe and his eccentricities, Jeremy Brett has the character of Holmes embedded in every look, every gesture and every word. One series I will recommend to every aficionado of Sherlock Holmes!
I hope you loved reading this list as much as I loved penning it. To be honest with you, I have repeatedly read each book and watched each cinematic adaptation umpteen number of times to help me choose, the book or the theatre. And I just couldn’t, every repeat only reinforced my wonder of such fine adaptations that matched the books, every word to every act!. Please leave me your comments below, I will really love to hear back from you. I will like it even more if you come up with your own views about this list, which may help me choose the better of the two. And, yes, that will also mean I do another repeat read and watch with your valuable inputs, an opportunity I don’t want to miss. Keep reading, keep watching, I will be back soon!